Although it is quite difficult to imagine today, a hundred and seventy years ago the site of No 41 Queen's Gate Gardens would have thronged with people milling around the entrance to the Great Exhibition, which was held in Hyde Park in 1851 and was attended by more than six million people. The land was then market garden and was owned by Henry Alexander, a direct descendant of Oliver Cromwell's Secretary of State, John Thurloe (1616 - 1688).
It is interesting to mention here Thurloe, who was one of Cromwell's earliest supporters and played an important role in elevating him to the Protectorship. Thurloe's vast correspondence, as head of Cromwell's intelligence services, is the chief authority for the history of the Protectorate. The story goes that, on one occasion Cromwell took him for a drive in Hyde Park in order to try the six horses sent to the Protector by the Duke of Oldenburg. The horses ran away with the coach, and the secretary hurt his leg in jumping out. Rumor suggests that it was on this occasion that the Protector offered Thurloe the land on which Queen's Gate Gardens now stands.
After the Great Exibition, the Parliament decided to use the profits obtained to develop here a magnificent new residential estate and cultural Centre for the Nation. The houses from Nos. 11-41 Queen's Gate Terrace are the work of Charles Aldin, erected c. 1857-1870 to designs by William Harris. The character of the buildings is beautifully evidentiated by the stuccoed terraces and each having five floors and basement, three windows wide and ionic porches. Other details include first floor windows with segmental pediments to balustraded balconies, arched windows to top floor and cornice above with balustrade. The property entered in the Heritage Category as a Grade II listed building in April 1969.
Its first owner of No 41 Queen's Gate was perhaps its most distinguished, Claude Bowes Lyon (1824-1904), thirteenth Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the father of the late Queen Mother and the grandfather of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. He lived in Queen's Gate Gardens in some splendor. It seems reasonable to suppose that the late Queen Mother must have spent some period of her childhood in this house, although her father did own several other homes including the much-haunted Glamis Castle in Forfarshire.
The Earl of Strathmore subsequently sold No.41 Queen's Gate Gardens to Oliver Williams, who sat as a Justice of the Peace for Gloucestershire. Oliver Williams' widow was still the owner of No. 41 Queen's Gate Gardens in 1909. The house seems then to have been purchased by Michael North who converted it to use as the Leicester Court Hotel. The London Post Office directories show that it has been continued in hotel use ever since.
After a thoroughly renovation, the No 41 Queen's Gate has become in 1995 the elegant Strathmore Hotel and we are proud to have this gem in our hotels' group portfolio.